Over a dozen years ago when Prof. Joe Pelton of George Washington University was at INTELSAT, he told me that: "If you consider the use of telecommunications, you are bound to think globally." As you all know well, the Web is the core of the Internet, and the Internet is the future of telecommunications. Applying Pelton's rule, Web-based education is bound to be global, and has to be the essence of global e-learning.
Drs. David Johnson and Richard Arndt (both former Presidents of the Fulbright Association) kindly took me to Senator Fulbright's home in September of 1993. It was a most memorable visit and a fulfillment of my long-standing dream since my life was completely changed with my experiences as a Fulbright student almost 45 years ago. I pledged to the Senator that I would work harder to spread the spirit of the Senator to every corner of the world with the use of advanced telecommunications and information technologies, by creating a Global (electronic) University system, i.e., a 21st century version of the Fulbright exchange program.
President Clinton urged during his State of the Union Speech last January that Americans should help the people of developing countries in their use of Internet, since Americans firstly developed it.
During the recent Okinawa Summit, the Japanese government pledged to allocate US$15 billion over 5 years to close the gap of the digital divide. After the Japanese government allocated one billion dollars to the Human Genome Project, the British did the same and then the U.S. and others to come up total of $5 billion, which project is now approaching the wonders of life.
Our appeal to the US congress is: (a) to have a similar esteemed vision of the Late Senator Fulbright, i.e., educational exchange as the basis of world peace, which can now be conducted more efficiently with the use of advanced Internet, and (b) to match the Japanese government's pledged funds which may be pooled into the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) that I have been advocating for multilateral cooperation to help close the gap of the digital divide around the world.
Please vist the following reference Websites describing my concrete proposals and activities of colleagues in the Global University System:
Global Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the U.S.A.
Global University System - Paper for The 14th Annual Conference of The Asian Association of Open Universities at The University of Philippines/Open University Manila, Philippines, 25-27 October 2000
Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) for Tele-education and Tele-health (Updated paper, 3 October 2000) / GSTF Global Summit plan (IIC Foundations Meeting on the Digital Divide, 25-28 September 2000)
Global University System Reference Websites (September 2000)
Supporting Statement by Dr. David A. Johnson:
In 1947, a few short years after the end of World War II, a war that
transformed and globalized our perception of the world, a Senator from
Arkansas, J. W. Fulbright, proposed a revolutionary idea: use the proceeds
from war surplus material around the world to finance educational exchanges
between the United States and cooperating partner countries. The program,
eventually named for the Senator who conceived of it, has for more than fifty
years served the country and the world well, making it possible for thousands
of Americans to study and teach abroad, and for thousands of citizens from
other countries to come to the United States to understand better our land,
people, and institutions. The Fulbright program has always been a shared,
reciprocal endeavor with each partner nation, and an outstanding success in
helping a complex world toward understanding, progress, and stability.
It has paid its way many times over.
My own Fulbright was in 1978 to what was then the Soviet Union where, as a
young professor, I had the opportunity to teach Russians about American
democracy and open societies. It was an exhilarating experience and I like to
think that in some small way I helped to end the Cold War. Certainly, the
Fulbright "changed my life," an expression I have heard again and again from
Fulbrighters to many countries.
Today, just as America did a half-century ago when the Fulbright program was
initiated, we stand on the threshold of a new, emerging world of information
sharing, this time through the extraordinary opportunities presented by
electronic technologies. We can, like Senator Fulbright, envision a latent
opportunity that lies within our grasp -- through the digital wonders of the
Net and through the potential of electronic distance education. Or we can
ignore the digital divide and miss the opportunity to make a giant leap across
time and space. It will take imagination and the will to use the new tools in
creative, efficient and powerful ways if we are to seize that opportunity.
The carefully conceived projects of the Global University System and the
Global Service Trust Fund have the potential to extend educational
opportunities on a scale comparable to that of the Fulbright Program. The
challenge will be to master the new tools, and to fashion them to fit the
specific needs of individual countries and their institutions, especially in
the emerging and developing economies. This evolution needs to occur under a
supportive umbrella structure that combines technical capabilities with
imaginative, experimental pedagogical approaches. This is the ambitious
mission that GLOSAS and the Global Service Trust Fund has set for itself. It
is a mission that is doable and that needs to be done. It will require the
support of global development agencies, the telecommunications sector, and
GLOSAS has already demonstrated its capacity to undertake innovative
distance-learning programs in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
As a former Fulbrighter, I strongly urge Congressional support for the work of
this innovative and effective non-profit initiative. The benefits to the
American people and peoples around the world could be as profound as those
that have resulted from Senator Fulbright's vision. Indeed, they are
Dr. David A. Johnson
Professor Emeritus of Planning
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Past President, The Fulbright Association of the United States
Web page by Prof. Steve McCarty in Japan